Muhammara – red pepper and walnut dip.

Sometimes, the co-op has some really good deals. Last week, they were selling lots of red peppers greatly reduced, so I made this. It is great as a dip along with hummus, and served with flat bread. It is a traditional dish, and there are loads of recipes online, twisting up the flavour in different ways. I’ve added a few suggestions of alternatives in brackets. The basic ingredients are red peppers, garlic and walnuts. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 red peppers
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (you can increase this quite a bit, according to taste, use a mild pepper such as pul biber, or Aleppo chilli flakes))
  • (I have also made this by adding a couple of fresh hot chilli peppers to the roasting stage)
  • (You can add toasted breadcrumbs too)
  • (1 tsp cumin)
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • (you can use a pinch of powdered sumac instead of the vinegar or lemon juice)
  • (you could use pomegranate molasses and/or lemon juice instead of vinegar)
  • 60g walnuts (you can toast the walnuts first) 
  • salt

METHOD:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 220C
  • Quarter the peppers, remove the stalks and seeds, and mix with the oil. Spread them out on a baking sheet, skin side up and put them in the oven for 15 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, spread the walnuts out on another baking sheet, and pop them in the oven for around 10 minutes. Set them aside to cool.
  • Once the peppers have been in for 15 minutes, add the garlic cloves and pop them back into the oven for another 15 minutes. The peppers should look charred, and the garlic should be soft. 
  • Put the peppers in a food processer with all of your other ingredients and blitz to form a rough paste. Adjust the seasoning to taste. 

You can make this as smooth as you like, I like it slightly rough. Some people remove the skin from the roasted peppers, and make a smoother paste. 

 

Red pepper and Aubergines with yoghurt and garlic.

You know how it is: You go to the shops to buy a green pepper, and they are only available as a pack of three mixed peppers. I ended up with a couple of red peppers, and then found this recipe in Moro. I adapted a little to locally available ingredients. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large aubergine
  • 2 red peppers (I had one red and one yellow pepper, which made for an attractive dish)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g Greek-style yoghurt, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 25g caramelised butter
  • fresh coriander leaves

METHOD:

  • Turn the oven to 220C. Pierce the skins of the aubergine and peppers, and put them in the oven on a tray for 40 to 45 minutes. I turned them a couple of times, and took the peppers out earlier than the aubergine. 
  • When the skins of the peppers and aubergine are cooked, cool the vegetables until you can handle them, and peel off the skin. 
  • Chop the aubergine coarsely, and mix in the crushed garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil, and season to taste. Spread the mixture over the base of a serving plate
  • Remove the seeds from the peppers, and chop them coarsely, season lightly and strew artistically over the aubergines. 
  • Pour the yoghurt in blobs over the dish, and spoon over with caramelised butter. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with pitta bread or other flatbread. 

To make caramelised butter, melt butter in a small pan, and heat gently until the milk solids turn a golden brown. Watch carefully, or it will all go wrong.